The loss of Callum Wilson this season was never going to be easy to overcome in the short-term. It disrupted the whole way in which manager Eddie Howe sets up his team, and at first, has turned to the strength and power of Glenn Murray to boost the goal count up front.
The former Crystal Palace striker started better than many would have expected by scoring against Watford and Manchester City, then more importantly grabbing the winner away against defending league champions Chelsea.
Murray has always scored goals at whatever level he has played at. His scoring attributes won him much acclaim at Brighton and Crystal Palace, places where he was a crowd favourite. His task of doing the same at the Cherries was going to need boss Howe to adapt the side’s playing style and from the early games, there were signs that it was beginning to work.
But when the team faced Southampton at St Mary’s, the whole idea of Glenn in the team was to use his height and his ability to hold up the ball, but what AFCB really needed was a player to go long and run the channels, rather than come short as Glenn was doing. It all looked unbalanced and had to be changed at half-time.
Perhaps Howe thought that with both wings supplying a lot of crosses in towards Murray there would be joy for the big man in the box. Early on against Watford, it certainly worked. Murray has much better movement than most players of his size when in the box and he makes determined runs that cause worry for defenders.
It’s goals that Murray was brought into the side to provide though and he has found it hard to regain his first-team sport given the form of Josh King, who has much less experience than him. King’s style of play has been preferred. The time for Glenn to make a big impact has perhaps run out. Opportunities for him have been there, but he has not been consistent enough.
Against Watford, he saw his penalty saved and he missed a golden chance to score against his former club Palace in the closing minutes when he had a clear sight of goal. But for all that misfortune, there has been some comfort to know that if Junior Stanislas, Benik Afobe or King had not delivered, than Murray could always be used as a ‘Plan B’ in the closing minutes of games.
What I can’t say is that Murray has been an automatic good fit. You can argue that Howe might have persisted for longer with Glenn. Yet come January, it was Afobe who was the new sensation at Dean Court and, even with Lee Tomlin going out on loan to Bristol City, Murray has not managed to push for a starting place in the side.
Having twisted his ankle before the crucial Aston Villa match that virtually secured AFC Bournemouth’s place in next season’s Premier League, it might well have been the last chance for Glenn to run out for the side now that Wilson is back on the scene.
The Cherries have gotten by in the forward department by seeing several players chip in at different times. It has served them well to do this, but the future would seem to point towards the crop of agile strikers at the club such as Afobe, Wilson and King, while Murray may well find he is looking for a new club.
At least he has the satisfaction of knowing that he has offered the Cherries much more than his replacement at Crystal Palace – a certain Emmanuel Adebayor.